Zune to expand to international markets: details announced

Microsoft today announced “the further international expansion of Zune”, expanding the Zune software and variations on Zune Marketplace and Zune pass to a number of new markets:

The fall 2010 international expansion of the Zune music and video service includes the following:

Zune Marketplace will extend services to several markets in Europe and beyond.

Zune Pass (U.K., France, Italy and Spain). The monthly music subscription service will be available for 9.99 euros /8.99 pounds per month for unlimited download and streaming access to the Zune music catalog and will be accessible on Windows-based PCs, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE. The offer in the U.S. will remain at $14.99 per month for unlimited downloads and streaming access, with the ability to keep 10 MP3s per month.

Music purchase (U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Germany). Expansion to these markets will enable consumers to purchase MP3s and listen on their Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 or any other device that supports MP3 format. Users will also be able to purchase music videos to enjoy on Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune on Xbox LIVE.

Video purchase (U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Consumers will now be able to purchase movies to download and watch anywhere — on the big screen in the living room with Xbox LIVE or their Windows-based PC as well as sync it to their Windows Phone 7 to enjoy on the go.

Movie rental (U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). In addition to Zune video on Xbox LIVE, consumers in these countries will now be able to rent movies for viewing on their Windows-based PC or choose to sync the rental to their Windows Phone 7.

The global expansion of the service is the latest step in a series of milestones for Zune, including powering Bing music search results, the added ability to purchase music and video on Zune.net, and the forthcoming integration with Xbox LIVE and Kinect for Xbox 360. By continuing to integrate Zune across the most important screens to consumers, Zune provides an all-in-one music and video service for users to discover, enjoy and experience their entertainment wherever they want

Included in the announcement are a number of “gotchas”, including that Zune Pass will be available in the U.K., France, Italy and Spain, but that the “10 songs free to keep per month” offer does and will apply only to the United States.  And while Zune video will appear on Xbox Live, “the same Windows Live ID needs to be used on the Zune software, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE accounts” in order to gain “cross-screen functionality.  You will be able to purchase or rent “a large library of videos from major studios such as Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution” and watch from your Zune, Xbox, PC, or WP7, but you will only be able to download those videos from your PC or Xbox, but then watch them “on the screen of your choice”

The new Windows Phone 7 compatible 4.7 version of the Zune software will be available to these new markets as well as the US, but this announcement doesn’t deliver a new download.  Hopefully that will be coming soon.